Lemme back it up a bit:
This morning, I was involved in a little car accident. Nothing serious. No one got hurt. Just one of those freak accidents that caused a few scratches to my car and a little dent. Just small enough that the at-fault might scoff the legitimacy of the damage (what I was sweating over). But enough damage to cause me irritation over chasing insurance companies, estimates, paperwork and possibly having to pay for the repairs on damage that was not my fault. Damn freak accidents! Makes me not want to leave my house.
Anyways, so here I was sitting at my desk all gloom and doom. Sighing over all the extra phone calls I would have to make, over my digital camera that sucks so hard and won’t be able to take a decent photograph of the damage, over how horribly unfair my measly little life is. And then my boss tells me that she wants to do my mid-year performance review this morning. Do I have some time for it right now?
I bought myself a little bit of time by going to the restroom and quietly freaking out and trying to convince myself to build up a calm stonewall demeanor. Who cares, right? Who wants this shitty job anyways, right?
I leave the restroom an oasis of calm and head to my boss’s office. We sit for the review behind closed doors.
And you know what? Turns out that she thinks I rock. Well, not in so many words. But she said that overall I “perform effectively” (Don’t you just love the corporate mumbo-jumbo? What a load of crock body of lexicon!) and that there were a few areas where I surprised her and “exceeded expectations.”
And here I was quaking in my Steve Madden sandals worried about how I was going to hold it together if she nailed me for something wrong. All for naught.
I admit that I am not The Model Employee ™. I have really high standards and strong work ethic. Normally. And in a normal work situation, I find ways to fill my down time with productive tasks for my office. Lately? Not so much. I still get my work done. But I am efficient and complete my tasks quickly left with the task of a whole day to fill with busy work so that I appear productive.
I think that the thing that gets to me is how much bullshit these reviews are. It’s a terribly flawed system. On a certain level, I appreciate the touchy-feely desire that a huge corporation adopts to give employees the feeling like the company has a human side. We do care. We want to help you improve. On a different level, I feel like these things are just another heap of paperwork that goes in “your file” in the event that they want to build a case to boot you out. I’m being a touch cynical here. I haven’t really thought about how else these reviews benefit employees so I don’t have any suggestions for solutions or change. But the thing that really chaps my hide is how relative performance reviews can be. In my year and a half with this company I’ve had three performance reviews that look like a cosine curve:
I’ve been putting decreasing amounts of effort and high standards into my work and this is how they perceive me. My first review was with my former manager’s manager who had to give the review since my manager had quit after I was only there for a month. It was a fair review in my opinion. My second review was with a wacko boss who seemed to find every little thing wrong with me. It ended up turning into something bigger and I found out through the course of it that her initial review had been far worse and they had to talk her down into something a little more constructive and a lot less damning. My last review (the one that just took place) is with a manager who is fair. I like her and I respect her. But I can’t help but wonder if some of what she thinks is so amazing about me is in comparison to the last girl who held this post who (from what I hear) fell quite short in performance. Or in corporate-speak: Does not perform effectively and needs improvement.
Not that any of this really matters in the long haul. It’s still a shitty job and I don’t see a future for myself here, right? Right. But it’s good for me to keep in mind how much of a mind-fuck these things can get to be. It’s all about perspective. I can’t let them get to me.